Clippers-Wizards Preview

The Los Angeles Clippers have played their best basketball

against fellow members of the Western Conference. Surprisingly,

it’s been the far inferior Eastern Conference that most of their

troubles have come against.

Los Angeles will try to return to the .500 mark against the East

when it wraps up a seven-game trip Saturday night against the

Washington Wizards.

The Clippers (15-9) are 3-3 on their trip after a 102-93 loss in

Brooklyn on Thursday dropped them to 5-6 against the East.

Meanwhile, they’re a strong 10-3 against the West, which boasts

nine other teams sitting at .500 or better compared to just three

for the East. Los Angeles is averaging 108.2 points against

conference foes, 10.7 fewer than it averages against East

clubs.

Those struggles continued in Thursday’s setback with the

Clippers shooting only 37.1 percent from the field and recording a

season-low 15 assists. Chris Paul scored 20 points but matched a

career low with two assists.

“We didn’t have a lot of movement. We were out of our offense

almost the whole night,” coach Doc Rivers said. “We did a lot of

dribbling. We just have to run our normal offense. Not the one we

ran tonight. Clearly, we’ve got to make open shots and we had a lot

of those, but I still didn’t like our movement.”

Blake Griffin had 12 points and 11 rebounds but was just 2 of 8

from the field as he played on a sore ankle. Injuries kept both him

and Paul out of a 98-90 loss at Washington Feb. 4, which ended an

eight-game winning streak in the series. Griffin is averaging 24.0

points and 11.8 rebounds in five career games versus

Washington.

The Wizards (9-12) are trying to avoid what would match a

season-long losing streak after dropping three in a row. Two have

been in overtime, including Friday’s 101-99 defeat in Atlanta.

Trevor Booker recorded season highs with 24 points and 14 rebounds

and Washington came back from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit but

Al Horford hit the game-winning jumper as time expired in the extra

period.

“I’ll give them credit for staying in the fight and having an

opportunity to win the game,” said coach Randy Wittman, whose team

is 2-4 in overtime. “But when you don’t play for 42 minutes, you’ve

got to play perfect basketball. … I just don’t think we were

ready to play.”

John Wall shot 6 of 22, not coming alive until the fourth

quarter when he tallied 11 of his 13 points. He had been averaging

23.0 points and 10.3 assists over his previous four games.

“We just gave this game away,” Wall said. The fourth-year point

guard said the shots he hit late were “the same shots I took in the

first half, I just didn’t make them. I struggled.”

Washington’s bench was much better than when it scored a

season-low five in Monday’s loss to Denver, finishing with 25,

though it was 10 of 30 from the field.

Martell Webster scored 15 points after sitting out against the

Nuggets due to a sprained ankle, while Nene (Achilles) and Bradley

Beal (leg) remain out.

The Wizards are 4-1 on the second night of back-to-backs.